Doctor Fannie Almara (Dunn) Quain was a pioneering medical practitioner, and wife to Doctor Eric Quain – co-founder of Quain and Ramstad Clinic (now part of Sanford Health). She is best known as North Dakota’s first female doctor, her work against tuberculosis, establishing North Dakota’s first sanitarium, and championing quality medical training (particularly for women).
Fannie was born in 1874 to local businessman and pharmacist John Dunn, who later establishes North Dakota’s first drug store in Bismarck.
Fannie first pursued teaching, graduating from St. Cloud Normal School (now St. Cloud State University) with a degree in education.
Despite a strong interest in medicine, pursuing a career in the field was prohibitive. Female doctors were still rare and publicly denounced. Financing medical school was also an obstacle.
Undeterred, Fannie graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1898. She interned in Minneapolis before returning home to Bismarck, where she became North Dakota’s first female doctor.
Fannie traveled throughout the state to provide medical care and was influential in establishing both the state’s first baby clinic and the state’s first state sanitarium, San Haven, which opened in 1912 in the Turtle Mountains.
Fannie was also revolutionary in the fight against tuberculosis. Governor John Burke appointed Fannie as a delegate to the First International Congress on Tuberculosis. She was also a founder of the North Dakota Tuberculosis Association (now the American Lung Association of North Dakota).
It was about this time that she discontinued practicing medicine and devoted efforts to the Association, where served in varying capacities, including twice as its vice-president, until her death in 1950.
Additionally, Fannie served on the North Dakota State Board of Health from 1923-1933, where she was board president for some time. It was there that she championed local medical training, particularly for women. She also served as regional director for the Medical Woman’s National Association from 1933-1934.
Fannie married Doctor Eric Qauin in 1903. The two met while both working at St. Alexius. They had two children – Buell and Marion – the first of which, Buell, is noted for his mysterious death by apparent suicide in Brazil at the age of 27.
The pair later divorced.
Fannie died on February 2, 1950.
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